Stepping Lightly on this Earth

459207903_d5ce64f14a.jpgAs the green message grows there are few among us who haven’t read or heard the term “carbon footprint”. We’re getting better at recycling, and we’re gradually switching to energy efficient bulbs; but according to Al Gore, the Guru of Green, there is one crucial change we should all be taking to lighten our load on this earth… Refusing to eat meat.
“Refusing meat is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.” Al Gore - the official handbook for Live Earth concerts.

Three Lesser Known Facts on the Global Impact of Eating Meat:

1. Energy Waste & Greenhouse Emissions: In 2006 a United Nations report stated that the meat industry generates more greenhouse gases that all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined.

Eating one pound of meat has the same global impact as driving a massive truck for 40 miles; and the energy it takes to produce 2.2lbs of beef could keep a light bulb burning for 20 years.

2. Food Shortages: 44% of the world’s grain is used for animal feed. That means that while others starve, the meat industry uses essential grain to fatten animals for slaughter.

“Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.” Source: New York Times - Rethinking the Meat Guzzler

3. Land Loss: Deforestation and ruination of agricultural land are two direct results of raising millions of animals for the meat industry. The European Parliament looked into the vast amount of land being used for grazing and producing animal feed in Europe last year and stated that the “European Union is capable of feeding Europeans, but not their farm animals”.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, and that figure continues to grow as every year large areas of forest are destroyed to meet the demands of the meat industry, this newly cleared land ends up infertile and ruined.

Super Bugs and Slapping Nature in the Face

A final thought on the global impact of intensive animal slaughter is that in order to quickly bring animals to the point of a profitable death they are, as mentioned above, fed large amounts of grain. Cows don’t eat grain. They eat grass. In order to make them fatten quickly so they can be killed for sale they are forced to eat a diet entirely different from the one nature prescribed for them. The result? They get sick easily, and so they are fed massive doses of antibiotics. And so we see a growing number of anti-biotic resistant bacteria that are threatening the usefulness of medicines we have come to rely upon heavily.

A Weighty Choice

When you add the environmental cost of eating meat to the extreme cruelty of killing millions of animals every year to the growing concern over the increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, it makes a very strong equation for switching to a green and healthy alternative of living on grains, vegetables and fruit.

The meat industry is a business, we do not have to sponsor it’s harmful impact on the planet. We can make a stand and vote with our pockets by choosing a meat free diet. It’s easy, it’s healthy and it will help us each play our individual part in stepping lightly on our earth.

Photo by orangeacid